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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Jill’s Blog

Finding Simplicity as a SAHM by Adrina PalmerOnce upon a time, my seven-year-old daughter planned to write and draw the best princess story that ever existed. She grabbed a handful of white printer paper and stapled them together. The title on the first page was in pink with a sloppy princess with long flowing blond hair. The second page was filled with… nothing. Same with every other piece of paper she stapled together and left on my husbands desk… three weeks ago. She wasted all that paper as if I haven’t told her one hundred times computer paper costs $2.50 at Walmart and shouldn’t be wasted. She replied she thought was cheap, and I responded it is until you have to buy six packs of paper every month. 

Kids waste stuff. Computer paper, food, soda, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, the list goes on and on. Why do children waste everything? Because they are unaware the item has value and guess who’s job it is to teach kiddos value? Yep! Yours, mama. Let’s add one more thing to our to-do list. But this one is important as your kids will take this lesson into the future with them. Don’t make that scared face. I have another list for you.

Computer paper, crayons, paint, and other art supplies – do not put these items out of reach, trust me, your child will climb up on anything if they are feeling creative. Put limits instead. My three cannot get computer paper without both permission from me and from my husband. That cut down computer paper usage in thirds. Take that you wasting wasters. They also have to ask before they use other art supplies end of discussion. Well, not quite if they leave art supplies out they lose them for a week. 

Food, drinks, milk, cereal – the worst is leaving boxes of food open to go stale. Nothing drives me more nuts than wasted food. I stopped throwing away or replacing stale food. The kids have to eat it and I won’t buy more of that snack until the old one is gone. Now they use those handy little clips I got from Ikea’s checkout aisle. Other methods are to give clear guidelines for snacks. Only three cookies, only one small glass of juice. If they don’t listen don’t buy that item again. My kids eventually ask why I stopped buying the item and I say because they were wasteful. The promise until their eyes turn purple they won’t waste anymore and that lasts about a week. 

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Apr
23

Overcoming Challenges in Business

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Diana has owned her own home-based business since 1985! In this month’s video she addresses some the challenges she’s faced and how she has overcome.

 

About the Author:  Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com, where she offers PR and Marketing, book marketing, PR and Virtual Assistant Coaching, VA services, writing and editing, ghost writing, and so much more.   She has been featured in all major media including Forbes, Fox, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Radio, Woman’s World Magazine, and too many to mention and gets her clients in these publications as well. Email her for more information at diana@virtualwordpublishing.com.

One of the most amazing benefits of living in the digital age is the Internet. What used to take hours, or even days, to accomplish can now be completed in nanoseconds, and it’s all there at our disposal with just the click of a mouse – or touchpad if you happen to be on a laptop! We can even forge new relationships thanks to social media but there is also a downside to that as well.

For those who work online, it’s only natural to spend a certain amount of time in chat rooms and on social pages, but what happens when social media consumes much of our free time? If you work from home and the Internet is a huge part of how you get things done, maybe it’s time to step back for just a moment to take an honest look at how life in cyberspace may be affecting our real-life relationships. Here is some of what you should be asking yourself.

Whatever Happened to Gathering Around the Table?

The next time you sit down to dinner, think about where you are. If you are like most people in the 21st century you are probably sitting there watching your family text away on their cell phones. While you may all be seated at the table, are you really at the table? Perhaps your mind is elsewhere.

Your kids are on Instagram or Facebook happily chatting away and you may be reading up on the day’s news or perhaps on Facebook yourself. Whatever happened to family meals around the table where everyone shared the day’s events? Can you even remember a time when no one sat at table minus a phone?

Are Sunday Afternoon Drives a Thing of the Past?

There was also a time when families would all pile in the car, attend their place of worship and then go for a drive in the country or to the lake for a picnic. While many families forego this pleasure because of the ever-rising cost of fuel, most often it’s because we’ve nothing to say to each other. We are so used to speaking with our thumbs that the spoken words are few and far between.

If you’re looking to the Internet for something to do for fun, why not get ideas from sites like Funattic.com? Learn about family activities which are helping other families connect on a real, interpersonal level and have fun doing so. Whether it’s a day at the beach or a trip to the local ski resort, set social media aside even for just a day to begin re-connecting with the people in your life.

Finally, What Do I Really Know About My Kids?

In the end, what do you really know about your kids except that they want the latest iPhone for their birthday and that they simply adore Snapchat. Billed as “The fastest way to share a moment,” are they really sharing anything other than a two-dimensional image of themselves? If you really want to know your kids, take the phones away for just a day. Sometimes a few hours are sufficient.

Talk to them. Ask them how they’re doing. You may get a bit of rebellion at first, but if you make it a fun experience, they’ll soon learn to appreciate your time spent together. Use those ideas you got off Fun-Attic to keep the experience light and friendly. Now you can actually have something to say if anyone should ask you what you really know about your kids.

Social media is a fun way to connect but it shouldn’t be the foundation of all our relationships. As the old classic goes, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this world a better world if you can.” Remember, it all starts at home.

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Moses. A busy general of a brand-new nation numbering a million people. You think he was slightly busy? Oh yeah! He was the one man at that time that had a face-to-face relationship with God. Important, definitely.

But in Exodus 18, we learn some key lessons that I believe can be applied to our businesses and branding.

Here’s the background. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit from Midian. Jethro observes Moses engaged in judging disputes all day long and realizes that what Moses was doing was not wise. Jethro suggests another way, Moses listens, and the advice is effective. Jethro goes back to Midian.

Here are the various lessons learned from this passage:

1) Be humble enough to listen to advice from an unlikely or unexpected source. Do you have the humility to realize you need help and counsel or do you think you can “go it on your own?” Moses respected his father-in-law and immediately saw the wisdom that was presented to him.

Remember that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” We always have something to learn, whether we are 15 or 85! Learning is a lifelong process and never ends! And there is wisdom and safety in many counselors.

2) Doing things all on your own is going to cause burnout. This is what was happening to Moses. Jethro anticipated what was going to happen if Moses didn’t change his approach.

I was caught up in this myself for years. I thought that I could do everything. We stay at home moms seem especially prone to this. We think we have to do and be it all. I’m telling you, it is not possible! We are not islands unto ourselves! God created us for relationship and we need each other!

3) Delegate! Moses had to let go of some of his work and authorize others to do what was simple. Read More→

money is tightDo you consider yourself to be bad with money? Need a little money management advice to help you get your finances in order? Look no further. In this post you’ll find money management tips for people who are bad with money, so you can finally feel in control of your finances:

 

Admit You have A Problem

The first thing you need to do is admit you have a problem. Admit it out loud, and then choose somebody you trust to confide in. This could be a parent, a best friend, or a sibling. Make sure they are the kind of person who will support you and be as non judgemental as possible, as somebody who will berate you for your irresponsible actions could only send you into a further downward spiral of spending and being silly with money. Once you’ve admitted you have a problem, you can begin to take the steps to change it.

 

Identify What Makes You Spend Money

Now it’s time to look at what makes you spend money – your spending triggers. There are likely things that will make you feel more like spending, such as when you feel stressed or overwhelmed, or even when you feel bored. There are many reasons we spend – some people are trying to keep up with a rich friend, while others simply learned their terrible spending habits from their parents when they were young. Once you’ve identified why you spend money the way you do, you can begin working on breaking those old habits. The more you understand yourself and how your brain works, the better.

 

Change Your Mindset And Attitude Towards Money

It’s important you change your mindset and attitude towards money, as it will have had a lot to do with the reason you are the way you are with money now. You probably have programs subconsciously running in your head over and over telling you that you’re bad with money, that money is the root of all evil, that it’s bad to like having money – all of these things are beliefs that people have, and they stop us from making and keeping money the way we should. Work on your innermost feelings about money and figure out how you can change them.

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerHaving a successful business takes time and effort and a blueprint that works.  It differs for all businesses, but many key factors remain the same.  As an entrepreneur for 33 years (celebrating this month), I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.  You know what I mean. The thrilling excitement of a month that exceeds all your expectations not only monetarily, but with the work you do and the clients raving about your services.  To those devastating lows when mistakes happen or clients leave unexpectedly and you’re left with a smaller bank account and a little hole inside missing not only the work but the clients themselves.  It can be a roller coaster for sure.  But just like the thrill of a roller coaster, the absolute joy in owning your own business makes this one ride, most are happy to take, year after year.

But with most things, doing it right makes all the difference. Here are some tips entrepreneurs need to know to grow their business, but more importantly to love it as well.

Entrepreneurs – Master These 9 Top Business Tips for Success:

Be Exceptional at What You Do – No matter what services you provide, do it so well clients can’t do without you. And not only that, but they rave about you to their friends and business associates. You always want to provide that “wow” factor.  Wow, that is exactly what I needed.  Or wow you make me look awesome. Always go above and beyond and make exceptional your everyday practice.  This isn’t to say you need to work 24/7 and not set boundaries.  Quite the opposite.  You succeed best with boundaries.  But by being exceptional at what you do, your clients will feel the love.

Training & Learning – Continually learn new things in your craft and apply it to what you do.  So many learn new things, but then stop short of actually doing them. That’s like going to Target and walking out with just what you came for.  Impossible!  You are missing out on all the goodies.  Same with training.  Often times you learn things, but don’t get to the action step of doing it.  Make it happen! Also, be an avid reader.  Not only of business books, but memoirs and fiction too.  You can see styles you like and tips for success.  Books just motivate you and sometimes provide the escape you need to reboot.

Know Your Numbers – Boring!  I know it can be, but once you get doing it, it rocks.  You find yourself competing with yourself to get those numbers up.  Track social media and  how many followers/fans/friends, etc. on each network.  Track website views.  Track clients and hours you spend on each client.  Track the services or products you provide. Track your own marketing and how much time you spend on it and what you are doing as well as the results.  If you have a team, track those stats too.  Again, this will differ for each business, but just get started.

Now here’s the fun part.  Highlight your results. On the times your numbers go up highlight those in a fun color like purple or blue, or your very favorite color.  For the weeks they go down, highlight in brown (of course that is unless your favorite color is brown.)  It’s a mental thing, but boy is it fun to see those fun colors on those good weeks.  You’ll find yourself wanting to do more to increase your stats and you’ll feel rewarded.  Also, treat yourself with wins. On weeks that your numbers rock, get that extra Starbucks or something special you like and know that it’s because of the good results.  It’s a mindset thing, but it works!

Work Your Business –So many entrepreneurs get so caught up in their client work (which rocks don’t get me wrong!) that they have little or no time for their own business.  That means their newsletter doesn’t go out on time.  Their last blog was 2010.  Their social media is still wishing everyone a Happy New Year!  You get the drift.  It’s so important to work your business.  That means scheduling in time for your business.  Write it in your calendar and schedule it the same as client work. You wouldn’t NOT do your client work would you?  Of course not, so don’t skip out on your own business.

Know and Understand Your Clients – Truly listen to your clients and respond accordingly.  Many are so afraid to hear negative things that they simply don’t ask.  Big mistake!  Yes, it might be uncomfortable at times, but when clients know they can come to you with ways to improve their relationship, they will.  And often times it can be something really simple to change.  Also, it can be as simple as when sending your invoices each month, you say, “Do you have any recommendations?  Please let me know.”  I have made this a practice for years and I’m always glad when clients come to me with recommendations.  I want them coming back year after year so when I can do something better, I will. Read More→

Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerIt was in the middle of February during a very shivering cold time that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said most dramatically, “I can’t wait for Spring. When in the world is Spring going to get here?”

As a veteran husband, I knew this was not a question for me to ponder or even to answer. Rather, it was something I needed to ignore completely. I learned these things down the years, which is why I have survived so many years. If silence is golden then I have reached those golden years of life.

I wouldn’t say this to her, but I was thinking the same thing myself. When is Spring ever going to get here?

I was counting the days when it would be Spring and we could enjoy some graciously warm weather for a change. This weather has been stinking chilly for a long time and I was getting tired of it. I could tell my wife was getting tired of it too, but I didn’t want to go in that direction with any kind of conversation. Sometimes the best thing to do is not do or say anything.

It was unusually cold here in Florida and I was tired of it. Personally, I was looking forward to Spring when things would automatically change and I could put away my sweater.

That magical day arrived. The day before my wife said, “Well, tomorrow is Spring and all this nasty, rainy, chilly weather will be over.”

If only my wife was in charge of the weather. That would be a wonderful thing because the weather would be perfect every day. At least according to her calculation.

I remember when I tried to explain to her that we needed change in the weather and we needed rain in order for crops to grow, trees to grow and so forth. After my explanation she put both hands on her hips and stared at me one of those stares that I’m so familiar with. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t have to. Read More→

Apr
16

DIY Household Products

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*Excerpt from You Can Stay Home With Your Kids by Erin Odom*

When we were living on a low income and I was trying to do something, anything, to make staying at home with my kids possible, I turned toward DIYing as many home products as I could muster. The humorous thing is that I am not naturally crafty or good at DIY projects! I learned to do this as much as I could during a short period because I wanted to stay at home with my kids, and this was an easy way to save money. 

What is even more advantageous about DIYing things is that you can later make and sell those same products and turn a profit in the process!

Foaming Hand Soap

If you’re new to the natural-living scene, one of the ingredients in this recipe, Castile soap, might be new to you. This nontoxic, highly concentrated soap might seem expensive at first glance, but it will last you a very long time and will serve as an ingredient in many a DIY cleaning recipe. I’ve ordered Castile soap online at Amazon.com and Vitacost.com, but most health stores and even Target carry it. This foaming hand soap recipe is so easy-peasy that you’ll never buy foaming hand soap again!

Ingredients:

1/4 parts Castile soap

3/4 parts distilled water

2–3 drops essential oil of choice (optional—for scent only)

a foaming soap dispenser

 

To Make:

Mix soap and water. Drop in oils, and mix. Pour into a foaming soap dispenser.

 

ACTION STEP: Purchase the ingredients for this soap, and try it for yourself!

 

Air Freshener

I use this homemade air freshener to spray down the insides of my trash cans every time I change out the bags. I also use it to spray the bathroom or kitchen when I need a quick way to eliminate stinky smells. It’s so easy to make that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Ingredients:

water

essential oils of choice

a glass spray bottle

 

To Make:

Simply fill a glass spray bottle with water, and add several drops of your favorite essential oils or essential-oil blends. Shake slightly before using.

 

 

ACTION STEP: Gather the ingredients and make this homemade air freshener. Then cross store-bought air freshener off your shopping list forever!

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Apr
16

Simple Ways To Set Up A Home Office

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Whether you work full-time from home or just need an area where you can brainstorm and focus on important tasks, there are some basic aspects to consider. Home offices are no longer situated in the basement or the corner of the room. They play an important role in today’s world where more and more people are starting to work from home. Even if you’re not working with a big space, it is important to remember your needs and comfort.

Working from home allows people to have a better work-life balance, forget about the stress of commute and gives them the freedom to design their workspace according to their needs, likes, and budget. Home offices need to promote productivity, comfort, and happiness and the following tips might be just what you need.

 

  • Identify the Space

 

The first and most obvious aspect to consider is the space of your office. If your space is limited, you won’t have a lot of options. In this case, it might be a good idea to convert certain areas of your home where you think that you would be productive. You could convert a closet or a corner of your living room into your office. If you decide to convert your attic or basement into your office and you notice that there are a few unwanted guests there (ants, spiders, mosquitoes, etc.), it might be a good idea to contact a Pest Exterminator Company.

 

  • Follow Ergonomic Rules

 

When designing a home office, it might be tempting to get carried away by purchasing items of furniture that are pleasing to the eye. However, it is important to place the screen at eye level or a little below. The keyboard has to be placed so that the forearms are parallel to the floor. Last but not least, the chair should make you want to work and feel happy and comfortable. Consider all aspects that might improve your productivity, such as temperature and lighting. Have a portable phone on hand and consider window coverings that will allow you to control how much light gets in the office.

 

  • Get Creative With Storage

 

Filing cabinets might not be the most attractive piece of furniture, but you still need a storage solution for the papers you use frequently. Wall storage is a great option for those who remember something exists when they see it. At the same time, bookcases might be one of the safest options for any home office. They look great as a backdrop, and they are very versatile. If you’re using the guest bedroom as your office and you don’t feel like investing in a new storage piece of furniture, you could easily convert the wardrobe into a functional shelving system. Read More→

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3 business womenVisual and brand audits. It’s one of those fancy words graphic designers use. Why do you need one and how do you do it?

A brand audit is a careful analysis of every marketing material you have, from signage to business cards to your Website.

I like to call it an Identity Hunt. That’s what I call it in my branding courses and curriculum. This is a quest and you are trying to find what’s missing, what’s confusing, and what’s inconsistent so you can refine and define your identity.

Why is this important? Because the key to successful branding is perception meeting reality. Because perception IS reality. If there is a disconnect between what you think you are offering and what you’re prospect thinks you’re offering, than you are most likely losing clients. And that costs you money.

So here is how to conduct a visual audit:

Imagine you are a prospect that never heard of your company. What do they see when they go to your Website? If you have an office or a brick and mortar store, is your signage recognizable to them? When you give them a business card, is it consistent with your signage, Website, brochures, etc.

And here’s an often overlooked point-of-contact—when your customer calls your phone, what voice mail greets them? Have you clearly identified your name and business?

You want to notice inconsistencies. Are you confusing your audience? Are you telling them one thing but providing another?

You might use Facebook to get some objective opinions. Ask in a Facebook group what a certain logo or marketing piece is communicating.

Is it the same as what you intend on communicating? Read More→

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